View Full Version : Area leaders meet Delta Correctional Facility's new warden

04-13-2004, 07:00 PM
Wayne Self has seen firsthand the rehabilitative potential of Delta Correctional Facility.

The Leflore County supervisor was a guard at Greenwood's private prison when it opened in 1996. He says the facility's educational and work programs helped turn some inmates around.

"I know a few who have left this facility and have moved on in life doing good things with themselves," Self said.

Self was among some 35 persons who turned out Monday to meet the prison's new warden, Jody Bradley, and get an update on the reopened facility.

Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps echoed Self's testimony.

"When this prison was open, it had the best programs in the state," Epps said.

Delta Correctional Facility, mothballed since October 2001, reopened April 1. The medium-security facility presently holds 128 inmates who were formerly housed at the State Penitentiary at Parchman. It will continue to receive inmates over the next 11 weeks until reaching a projected capacity of 950.

Corrections Corporation of America, which was reawarded the contract to run the prison, has concentrated most of its energy on getting the facility up and going, Bradley said.

"This is the fastest we've ever brought a facility up," he said.

After 18 months of sitting empty, there was a lot of general clean-up and equipment repairs to make, according to Bradley. A new touch-screen security system has been installed and, as an added precaution, CCA is rekeying all 600 lock cylinders in the facility.

"Security is No. 1 with us," Bradley said. "That's the one thing we never look away from."

The warden said he expects CCA to restart its first education programs for inmates by May 1. There also will be programs to teach inmates vocational skills and help them kick any alcohol or drug addictions.

Bradley, who has been a warden at seven private prisons over the past 12 years, said the inmate population generally can be divided into thirds.

A third of inmates never change their criminal ways. A third will learn their lesson and not come back. "It's that middle third that we can make a difference with if we do the right things," he said.

Prisoner rights attorney Ron Welch has raised the question of whether the reopened facility will be overcrowded in violation of federal court orders that regulate the state's prison system. When it was built, Delta Correctional Facility had a listed capacity of 1,000 inmates, but one 220-inmate pod is being converted into a new Leflore County Jail, leaving 780 beds for state inmates under the original configuration.

Officials with the Mississippi Department of Corrections say, however, it will only take minor plumbing modifications to accommodate the extra 170 inmates. Deputy Commissioner Emmitt Sparkman said that 36 urinals will have to be converted into commodes in order to comply with Health Department regulations. He said that the housing areas already meet the proscribed minimums for living space.

Epps said Delta Correctional Facility is going to help him trim a strained corrections budget. The state will be paying CCA an estimated $10.4 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1 - $1.3 million less than it would cost to house the inmates in state facilities, according to Epps.

"They can do it cheaper than we can for a lot of reasons," he said.

Carolyn McAdams, business manager at Delta Correctional Facility, said that employees like herself who have been commuting to another CCA-operated facility in Tutwiler since Delta's closure are excited about the Greenwood prison's reopening.

"Now they don't have to make that commute every day, especially with the price of gasoline," she said.

McAdams will continue to drive the 82-mile round trip once a week, but most of the other 81 full-time employees now on the Greenwood payroll have been fully reassigned.

CCA also has been awarded the contract to operate the county jail. The entire complex is expected to provide 229 full-time jobs when it's fully operational. CCA, according to Bradley, already has received more than 300 applications for employment, including some from people who formerly worked at the prison.

Epps said that Gov. Haley Barbour, who ordered the reopening of the prison, is committed to making this a permanent move.

"As I understand from my boss, Mr. Barbour, it's open for good," Epps said.

The Greenwood Commmonwealth Online